Responding to Major Roadblocks

Responding to Major Roadblocks

Albert Einstein defined Insanity as: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Sometimes we writers get into a rut. Whether in writing or marketing we have discovered what we believe is the right way to go and we stick to it no matter what. Christian authors are just as guilty as any other writer of this unhealthy attitude.

After all we have prayed and sought God’s advice and implemented what appeared to be His answer. But there is the crux of our problem. Maybe it wasn’t God’s leading.

If that is where you are at then it is time to re-evaluate what you are doing. Take a step back and take a hard look at what is happening. Seek God’s leading and listen carefully!

If the problem is about your writing, revisit it and look for ways to improve. Ask yourself questions, especially as it concerns your cover, story line, and structure. Does the story move along at a good pace? Does it hold interest?

Don’t be afraid to change the story! Neither change just to change.

As for marketing you have a great many areas to look at. For example, do you frequently update your website or is it stale? Google and other search engines like fresh material and may downgrade your site if it is not updated.

Also take a look at your advertising. Especially paid advertising. You can waste a lot of money if you’re not careful. Frequently I take a look at where my money is going. And sometimes it means I shut something down and start something else. Recently I closed an email and domain account for three reasons: 1) there was a monthly cost, 2) the domain was not working like I wanted it to work, and 3) I could substitute a free email account for the paid account. The immediate result was a savings of money, but it also caused me to refocus on both the business and personal side of my writing career.

Did I just arbitrarily do that? No. I prayed to God for His leading. And it took weeks, perhaps months, before all of this was accomplished. It required me to look at everything and ask if I was just following popular opinion or was I doing things God’s way? It is not always an easy question to answer.

What is too easy is to follow the crowd. We are beset on every side by ideas and methods that are popular and successful. But worldly success doesn’t always translate to Christian success. God has a plan for us, and our goal must always be to conform to His will. It always requires us to spend time with Him and in His Word. It also requires us to compare the tactic or plan to God’s Word. Does the tactic or plan violate God’s Word?

In conclusion, we want to evaluate our work on a regular basis. Ask yourself the tough questions and early seek God’s leading. I believe that God has a plan for every Christian and He wants us to succeed within that plan. So the most important thing you can do is to trust Him and constantly seek His guidance.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Five Important Website Issues

Five Important Website Issues

Perhaps you are a new author and have decided to build a website or you have one up and running. There is much advice floating around about website design. Some is very good and some not so much. After fourteen years of working my own website, I have identified five critical website design issues.

You may have additional ideas and I welcome your comments. But here are mine.

The Home Page

This is regarded as the most critical page because this is where your visitors will most likely land. And this is true whether you have one or more home pages.

More than one?

Yes. As an Independent author I am also an independent publisher. Therefore, I have designed my website as a publisher’s site, and every author (all two of us) have their own Home page, plus more.

The Home page is where you want your usual visitors to come to. Therefore, you will have most or all of your marketing linked to that page. If the visitor Google’s your name (author’s name) it should bring the potential customer to your Home page.

On this page it is always wise to employ good SEO practices. As you build your site you may want to see how well you are doing. I recommend Website Grader, which you can use for free.

The Url

The Url is critical. Put a lot of thought into this. Among the things to consider is whether you are a one book author or you have or will write more books. If you write multiple books, you will want to use your author’s name in your url. The exception would be like a publisher’s site. But even then you want a url that goes to the author page, such as r.-frederick-riddle-books.html. If you are doing your own publishing don’t forget the primary site. Click on the link above to see the full url.

Most of you will have your own personal site. You might wonder why it has to be your name and not the name of a book. Simple. As you write more books you want people to know your name. People may seek a particular book title, but as your name recognition grows they will seek your name.

The About Page

The About page is very important because you want the visitor to know as much about you as you can reveal. How much you reveal is up to you, but a variety of experts say we should include our bio (of writing career), education, awards (if any), and a peak into your personal life.

Only reveal that which you want people to know. And please don’t include your Social Security Number or other potentially vital information.

The Store Page and/or Book Page

A Store page is very important if you sell on site. I would recommend that you also have a Book page where visitors can learn about your books. If not selling on site, it is important to have links from each book to the site(s) where it is sold.

A Book page should include a Cover photo, a description of the book, important stats (such as publisher, author, title, ISBN, and ASIN) and, of course, the links.

Media Page

Aside from potential buyers, you also want the media (newspapers, radio, tv, etc.) to also visit. This page is designed to provide them as much information as possible without their having to search the site. Some of the things included is a listing of every book you’ve written, a photo of you (a professional photo is recommended), links to any blogs you may have written, links to such things as Press Releases and other marketing sites where you are active.

Contact Page

Even if not selling directly, you need this page. It provides an opportunity for your visitors to talk to you. Perhaps they have questions about you, your books, or even an opportunity for your book to be marketed or turned into a movie.

These are only five ideas, but you might want to also include a Blog page (assuming you write a blog). But the five listed above are absolutes. You need these. Seek expert advice and don’t be afraid to visit other authors websites. This will combine a visual with the technical advice available all over the web.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

Are you a Real Author? Part II

Are you a Real Author? Part II

This four part blog asks you four questions and addresses each. Here is the second question:

DO YOU HAVE A PLATFORM?

Different people have different ideas about what a platform is. Here is my definition: A platform is a website, a blog, and social media.

A Website

I’ve talked about this before, but it cannot be overstated. An author needs to have a website. And not just any old website. An author needs to own a website.

Now this can have different connotations, so let me be specific. An author should have an website that reflects who they are. This can mean:

  • A website that reflects the book you’ve written
  • A website that reflects your name or alias
  • A website that reflects the you as an independent author.

For example, a website that reflects your book’s name will work if you have written only one book and won’t be writing new books. But if you write more than one book, such a website would be poor. Instead, you will want the website to reflect you as an author. By reflecting I mean both the domain name and the content would emphasize you as an author. I have used RFrederickRiddle.com as my website name.

However, when we founded T&R Independent Books and I decided to set up a new website, I created a typical publisher’s website where the author has his or her own pages. My former website RFrederickRiddle.com redirects to my author’s pages on the publisher website.

The important thing is that you want critical information within the domain name. In my former website it included my name and my new pages also include my name. This is a very important consideration, so if you have not done so yet, seriously consider it.

For more indepth wisdom check out my blog article, Hosting Your Website.

A Blog

As you know my blog’s url is RFrederickRiddleBlog.com. It tells the potential reader who I am and that it is a blog.

Your blog does not have to be about writing, but it should be about something you know and can be passionate about. And it should interest readers.

Social Media

You need to have a social media presence. While you don’t need to use everything that’s available, you should certainly be on at least two social media platforms. I use Twitter and Facebook, plus Goodreads and Bublish. Some authors also like LinkedIn, although that is primarily aimed at business to business.

It is not necessary to spend every minute of the day on your social media, but you should be active.

Why Is Having A Platform So Important?

Because people want to know about you and your book(s). And you want people to know about you and your books. Social Media provides excellent opportunities to self promote both yourself and your book.

Take a moment or two and tell us about your platform.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

His eBook Perished: The World That Was (Volume 1) can be found on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is found on Amazon.

Hosting Your Website

There are different ways of studying this subject. Some are much more technical than this blog will be. So for a detailed plan of action on hosting, then I suggest you Google ‘hosting your website.’

But I want to discuss the concept of hosting. Recently I blogged about marketing your website. In a sense this is an expansion on that subject.

There are two ways you can go. First, you can have a server such as Godaddy host your domain. The primary advantage of this is that you will have professionals design and maintain your website.

Chances are that the site will look good, attract visitors, and maybe even sell your books.

BUT YOU WON’T OWN IT!

What’s the big deal?

Let’s image for a moment that Godaddy goes belly up. Not likely, but let’s just pretend. Do you know what happens to your website?

It disappears.

You see, you don’t own it. Godaddy does. The domain may still exist (if you own that), but all content is gone, Kaput!

Second, I suggest the following:

  • Buy a domain
  • Make sure it is your name or company name (discussed in previous blog)
  • Do your own hosting

You might object that you don’t have the knowledge to do your own hosting. Well, that is a problem that is easily resolved. There are many companies out there, such as Godaddy, that provide easy to use interfaces that allow you to create dynamic websites.

Godaddy, for instance, has Website Builder. They also offer other hosting programs for relatively inexpensive costs.

I use the Website Builder. It is easy to use, has some powerful tools available, and is low cost.

In my blog about marketing the website I mentioned having good content above the fold. This term refers to when you first bring up the website on your computer or remote device. The fold is the bottom of the screen. You want some good, eye catching content above that fold.

Take a look at our website at www.tr-indbkstore.com. On your computer you immediately see our logo, site title, menu, marquee (showing clickable pictures of our books), our site motto, and the beginning of additional content. On a small cell phone you will see less, but all of this is information you want the visitor to see in the first few seconds.

Why? Because when we visit a site our attention span is very short. If we don’t see something to attract us and scream “Check this out!” then we will likely move on.

All of this was accomplished through Godaddy’s Website Builder. There are other hosting plans by Godaddy and other vendors that are just as strong or maybe stronger.

Here is a brief list of domain providers (alphabetical order) taken from Authors Academy:
·         1 and 1 (1and1.com)
1and1.com is a domain registrar that is both trusted and a reliable provider of hosting. Its services pretty much cover all types that are related to domain and Web hosting. Ideal for ITs (Information Technicians) as it has a dedicated server, website builder, SEO services, powerful web hosting, and email solutions.

You can get a domain for only $0.99 (first year) plus up to 5 sub-domains. In addition, it offers ecommerce.

·          Bluehost (Bluehost.com)
Bluehost.com is one of the best at the web hosting services. It is very useful to manage and host your website. Its one click installation of options allows you to easily install Drupal, Joomla, Prestashop, Zencart, and WordPress.

·         Dreamhost (Dreamhost.com)
Provides Web Presence Solutions to professionals, individuals and small businesses. Helps customers grow and develop their online presence by providing business class email service, ecommerce solutions, website builder products, digital certificates and web hosting.

·         Godaddy (Godaddy.com)
This is probably one of the best web hosting providers and domain registrar in the world. We use it for our author websites as well as the T&R Independent Bookstore.

Godaddy provides many services in addition to buying a domain ($2.95/year) and hosting ($1.99/month). These are Godaddy website builder, business email accounts, SSL certificates, SEO and other services.

·         Hostgator (Hostgator.com)
It has a popular web hosting service. They provide various types of hosting such as shared hosting, Reseller hosting, and VPS. In addition it provides dedicated server and domain registration.

These are just a few of the options available. Once you choose a hosting plan, dive in. Take their tour (if they offer you one). Learn about their tools and how to use them.

My suggestion is that you program yourself to write your website. That is just a fancy way of saying schedule the work. When people see a huge obstacle or job, it is like seeing an elephant. I always ask people, “Do you know how to eat an elephant?”

They usually give me a blank look until I answer, “By eating one bite at a time.”

And that is good advice when designing your website. Take your time, accomplish one task at a time. Before you know it the job will be done.

If you liked this blog visit our Facebook page, like it and post a comment.

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 R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. Authors Academy provides training in writing, publishing, and marketing.

Book Marketing: Your Website

Book Marketing: Your Website

Your website should be an integral part of your book marketing efforts. Today I will discuss some of the basics of website development.

 First of all, you need a website. I use Godaddy, but there are plenty of potential hosts out there. Today’s blog is not about the various hosts although I may blog on that in the future. Rather, today I am going to assume you have purchased a domain.

 Why?

 Because when you own your domain, you have more control of the site and the content. For example, if you decided at some point that you are unhappy with your website host, you can move to another host.

 Another reason for owning your own domain is that you can have a domain that is keyed to your name. When I first started out I bought rfrederickriddle.com as my domain. As you can see it was keyed to my author’s name. Recently we (T&R Independent Books) bought the domain tr-indbkstore.com, which again reflects our company name.

 As the owner of rfrederickriddle.com I was able to cancel the content on the site and redirect it to the T&R site. So I retained my professional name brand and people searching for me are redirected to my home page on T&R’s site. That is only one positive of domain ownership.

 This blog is not big enough to go in to great detail on web development, but there are a few points that need to be made.

  1. White background is often better that dark. (Don’t believe me, visit a site having a dark background and quite often it is hard to read the content.)

  2. Put eye-catching content above the fold (making the content the first thing visitors see).

  3. Highlight your book(s)

  4. Link to your blog, newsletter, and social sites.

 There is much more. But the above are generally agreed to be important.

 The title of this blog is marketing your website. So let’s discuss promoting the website itself. There are ways available to you to promote your site, such as:

  1. Facebook page

  2. Facebook ads

  3. Twitter page

  4. Twitter ads

  5. Your email signature

  6. Your blog

  7. Your newsletter

  8. SEO

  9. Word of Mouth

 These are just a few methods available. Each could be discussed in a separate blog.

The key here is that you put some effort in letting word get out about your website. It won’t be overnight. Be prepared for a long term effort. Your website’s visibility will grow.

 

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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.